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By Heinrich Domingo

In ethnography, researchers are taught to understand culture, history, and tradition through being with their subject of study. My Revolutionary Mother advances this technique and uses research to understand the past as it looks inside one’s own family and one’s self.


A film student, who is also a recent US migrant, decides to resolve issues of abandonment by his mother in a documentary film. Before their eventual migration to America, his mom was an activist fighting against the Marcos dictatorship. Most of the time, she has to leave her children and go into hiding because of the fear of being incarcerated by the rightist movement. In this film, both of them went back to the Philippines and visit once more their almost forgotten home in Cebu. Together, they confronted their suppressed anger towards their mothers.

Jethro Patalinghug offers the crowd with a fresh take on how research, documentary, and film can be tools in confronting the past as well as resolving personal struggles in life. He takes no shame in looking inside his own self and letting people take a peek of his own life. Here, he allows others to join his journey towards finding a lacking part of himself.

My Revolutionary Mother is beautiful for its honest narration of a personal story. It has the ability to pierce through the hearts of the audience and make them think of their own stories and own relationship struggles. Also, it provides sufficient historical and social contexts that made the plot easy to understand. The discussions on martial law and the activist life were enough for the viewers to understand the development of characters.

This short film’s style of story-telling is one that is well-needed in a time when historical revisionism is at the fore. The country needs more voices like Patalinghug to discuss the past through examining the present. Although, this film was a personal endeavor, it ended as a piece that that can be shared by the viewers.

This short film can be watched here.

4 stars